SAN DIEGO, CA - AUGUST 19: Lance Lynn #35 of the Texas Rangers pitches during the first inning against the San Diego Padres at Petco Park on August 19, 2020 in San Diego, California. New York Mets
(Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

The New York Mets starting rotation has been catastrophically bad. They’ll have the opportunity to fix that at the trade deadline. 

Kyle Newman

The trade deadline is less than a week away. It’s impossible to know who’s going to be buying and selling this year. The New York Mets play seven games in five days before the deadline. They could rip off a seven-game losing streak and be out of the playoff picture, or win seven in a row and be first in the NL East. Such is life in a 60-game season.

As things stand, as of this writing, the Mets are in the thick of the playoff race. Entering Tuesday, they’re just three games out of the NL East lead, 1.5 games out of second place, and tied for the second wild card.

That means they should be making moves to prepare for a tough stretch run. They’re going to play 34 games in 34 days to finish the season. The bullpen would be taxed to the max even on a team with elite starting pitching. The Mets don’t have that.

The Mets are 22nd in starting-pitching ERA. That includes injured pitchers like David Peterson and Michael Wacha. That’s not good enough. They need a unit that can give them length and help their bullpen.

To do that, they need to add at least one more legitimate starter to their rotation. That’s where the deadline comes in. The AL West has a trio of pitchers that would be monumental adds for the Mets if they chose to be aggressive.

Taijuan Walker, RHP, Seattle Mariners

I wrote that the Mets should gamble on Taijuan Walker during the offseason. Instead, Walker returned to the Seattle Mariners. I still believe they should.

The former top prospect has struggled since his major league call-up in 2013. Injuries have nearly ruined his career. He’s had a bounce-back year in 2020.

Through five starts Walker has a 4.00 ERA and a 4.91 FIP. Not the most impressive numbers, but those are solid for a fifth starter on a cheap deal. It would also be the third-best ERA on the Mets.

Walker wouldn’t be a flashy add that turns the Mets into World Series contenders, but he would help them become postseason contenders. The best part: He would come cheap in a trade.

Mets general manager Brodie Van Wagenen hinted that he doesn’t plan to be as aggressive this trade deadline. Well, Walker offers a cheaper alternative to upgrading the rotation.

the Mets could likely get away with offering a lower-tier prospect for a few starts from Walker before letting him leave in the offseason. Walker could take Wacha’s spot in the rotation and become an immediate upgrade.

With that said, if the Mets are in on Walker, they’ll have some competition across town. The Yankees are reportedly inquiring about Walker.

Dylan Bundy, RHP, Los Angeles Angels

From Orioles bust to Mets hero? It could be the story of Dylan Bundy. The former top prospect has rediscovered himself with the Los Angeles Angels. He has a 2.58 ERA and 3.05 FIP to start the year.

Van Wagenen would need to be aggressive if he wants Bundy. The Angels want to compete in the future and Bundy is under team control for one more year after 2020.

The silver lining is the price shouldn’t be too high considering Bundy’s past. However, it would be a major gamble for the Mets. Do they spend a mid-tier top prospect like Thomas Szapucki or Junior Santos to strike a deal for a player with Bundy’s history?

If he reverts back to how he pitched in Baltimore, the Mets would waste one of their best pitching prospects. But if it works out, the Mets could be getting a potential ace.

Lance Lynn, RHP, Texas Rangers

If the Mets are serious about competing this year and next, Lance Lynn is the guy to go after. He’s become one of the best pitchers in MLB over the last two seasons.

Lynn was third in pitching fWAR in 2019, behind only Gerrit Cole and Jacob deGrom. He’s arguably been better in 2020. His 1.59 ERA and 3.35 FIP are third and 22nd in MLB respectively.

Lynn is under contract at just $10 million in 2021. Adding him to the rotation for next season would be insurance against losing Marcus Stroman and/or Noah Syndergaard not being able to return from Tommy John surgery.

There are two issues though. One, the Rangers are still only 3.5 games out of a playoff spot, so they might not want to trade their best pitcher. Two, the price for Lynn would likely be astronomical.

Even if the Rangers were willing to listen on Lynn it would almost certainly cost the Mets one of their top prospects. A fair deal may look a lot like the Stroman deal from 2019. One close top prospects and another high-end lower prospect. Maybe something like Kevin Smith and Brett Baty/Mark Vientos.

It’s a steep price to pay, but a starting rotation with Jacob deGrom and Lynn could make the Mets legitimate World Series contenders.

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